Books · Reviews



Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot: Five speculative tales weave a complex tapestry of tragedy, horror, and loss
leading readers into dark places…but not necessarily guiding them back to the light.

  • Five different short stories
  • Each story weaves a thread of tragedy and irony

A darkly disturbing book of adult bedtime fables, Bedtime for Seneca offers five separate glimpses into worlds hidden just out of sight, ranging from the seemingly mundane to the fantastical.

“Three Nights in Budapest” explores an estranged father’s last, desperate attempt to gain his daughter back at any cost. In “Mortal Image,” Life accepts a mysterious assignment from her superiors that requires working with her obnoxious, unkempt coworker–Death.

Meanwhile, a nervous smoker with a lover who’s both more and less than he seems seeks help for his addiction from a decidedly odd psychiatrist, while an aggressive advertising consultant hopes to secure a new contract with the help of a rapid language acquisition class with its own agenda. And in “New Friends Made,” a dinner with a recently divorced friend takes an unexpected, and violent, turn.

Loss and regret run through each of author M. Duda’s disturbing tales, where even victory is made possible only by first losing. Each seductively twisted fable leads you into a darkness from which you must find your own way back…should you ever wish to return.

Opinion: Once again readers, do NOT judge a book by its cover. This is the second book from M. Duda that I have had the pleasure of reading/reviewing, and once again he has done a FANTASTIC job of executing “the creep factor” into his fantastical tales. The first book I had read and reviewed for M. Duda was his second shadow book called A Cat Will Play, which introduced me to psychological and eerie short stories. Just like A Cat Will Play, Bedtime for Seneca will have your mind reeling and leave you feeling unsure about your outlook on life.

This book contains five short stories: Three Nights in Budapest, Mortal Image, New Friends Made, Tiny Dragon, and Nervous. Three Nights in Budapest follows a father named Andrew trying to get his daughter back, while also reliving moments from his childhood when his violent father would beat his mother. As Andrew works to find where his daughter and ex had disappeared to, he learns that he might not be as different from his father as he thought. Mortal Image is the story of Life and Death being forced to work together on a mysterious assignment where an old drunken man is about to die. As Life fights to be released from the assignment, she is taught a lesson of forgiveness and gets a glimpse into her lost past. New Friends Made takes a turn into the fantasy and adultery side of things and tells the story of a married couple who has invited their newly divorced friend over for dinner, but things turn quite terrifying quickly. Tiny Dragon follows Leonard Small, an arrogant and outspoken advertising consultant, as he attends a fast-paced language learning class in order to obtain more work. In Nervous, Mr. Grelling attends an appointment with a strange psychiatrist in order to quit smoking due to his lover not approving.

Once again, I do not want to go into too much detail about each story because I will just give everything away! I tried to give a little bit more information in my description above, so hopefully that will give you guys a little more insight into what each story is about. I think my two favorite stories in this book have to be Three Nights in Budapest and Mortal Image, purely because I loved the hidden meanings in both and the length of the stories. Mortal Image might be one of the most unique short stories I have read before, and the way the author has made Life and Death into characters was genius! Though Tiny Dragon and Nervous left me feeling a little confused and not sure what EXACTLY was going on, I feel like the main “message” or theme to the story was more obvious in Tiny Dragon than it was in Nervous. The writing style that M. Duda possesses has made him move onto my list of favorite authors, purely for his way of creating a story for a reader that has a ton of different meanings. Not only does he capture how a person’s mind can linger into other thoughts in different moments, but he keeps each character unsettlingly human and true to their emotions and needs.

Overall, this is another great collection of short stories by M. Duda. Please keep in mind that this is not a book meant for children, as there are some scary and adult moments throughout. Also, if short stories aren’t something you normally read, I definitely suggest giving one of M. Duda’s books a try! He will get you absolutely hooked!!

4 Stars